Housework, creative work, developing twin relationship

Today was a day of domestic work. When the morning began there was a huge pile of dishes in the sink and on the counters, the shopping hadn’t been done, the meals for the week weren’t chosen, and the fridge had some unappetizing things in it. Today has now ended. There is another pile of dishes in the sink, but in between the first pile and this one, I have done dishes, cleaned the counters, made a list, gone shopping, cooked (first with Hazel and then by myself), done more dishes, and cleaned the kitchen floor. The second pile is smaller. It wouldn’t be there at all, except that I took a couple of hours to go join my writing group, where I made some more progress on figuring out my magic system.

I used to really dread tasks like dishes. Now, ironically, I find that the satisfaction I gain from that sort of completed task, along with the energy derived from doing something productive, as well as the practical benefits of having dishware on which to put food and food to put on the dishes all help to contribute to both my desire to write or practice or work out, and the effectiveness with which I do any of those things.

So, today was probably 65%/35% housework to writing. Tomorrow I am hoping to swap those numbers so that I can practice and write, as well as getting another dish cooked. I’m actually looking forward to both the practical and creative activities. Funny how the most unlikely things wind up complementing each other.

When I was cleaning the kitchen this afternoon I put the two high chairs next to each other and changed the orientation of the kitchen table. The twins are able to feed themselves now: all we have to do is put food on their trays and they’ll pick it up and eat it (minus whatever falls into cracks, crannies, and bib pockets, but we retrieve and re-offer that for the most part). So, we don’t have to sit between them armed with a bowl of mush and two spoons. Having a chair between the two high chairs required the table to be angled diagonally across the room, causing chair legs to become tripping hazards. So having the table back in a more regular alignment helps kitchen flow and logistics a lot. Also, once I’d put them next to each other, the twins started interacting much more, reaching out for each other (as well as for each other’s food). They smiled at each other. They both kicked their feet in excitement. They stayed in their chairs happily for long enough that I was able to get the spinach pesto turkey meatloaf prepared (a very yummy dish that I augmented by surrounding it with sweet potatoes drizzled with olive oil and sea salt). At that point I decided I’d earned my stripes for the day and set off to get in some writing.

A good day.

sisters and cousins

Joanna has been doing more sitting and rocking back and forth of the type that seems preparatory to crawling. I am convinced that the motivator she needs to take the next step, so to speak, is her desire to acquire whatever toy is currently in the possession of her twin sister. Emily is so strong, Joanna may have to resort to guile to accomplish her aims, but I have no doubt that she will ultimately find the way. At the moment she’s trying to pull Emily over to get at her favorite toy. Well, ok, that’s not guile; that’s brute force.

Today I put Emily on a kitchen chair (I was sitting right there, hands on either side of her), and she immediately pulled herself up. She played with the chair itself for a while, and with Hazel. Then, the second time I put her on the chair, she pulled up and almost in the same motion reached over and snagged Hazel’s plate. We all laughed. Hazel said, “You can give her my food!” So the twins got second lunch.

Emily is also figuring out that she can scoot to us, and is working on getting herself up into my lap under her own steam. It absolutely melts my heart to see her determination, to feel her little strong hands grabbing and her feet kicking and her legs propelling her. I love my babies so much.

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Our new iPod touch (first one for us) arrived today. Very exciting. Hazel can’t wait to talk with her cousins on Facetime, and was terribly disappointed to discover that it was far too late at night to make a call to any of them. We took a few photos, and Hazel made a video. I bought a case for it that’s theoretically indestructible, and we’re looking forward to facilitating cousin communication with it. I am glad that we have these digital aids to interaction that can help reduce the impact of living so far away from family and friends.

Bike trailer, Beatles gig, organization

Today we went to see another bike trailer. It was good to get a look at something else, and to hear someone else’s experience with it, and with trailers in general. We came away feeling clearer that we do want to go with a trailer rather than a tagalong or kids’ seats on our bikes, for now. We are not yet strong cyclists, and we feel more comfortable with the babies being lower down. That way, if we fall and the bike goes down, the trailer won’t. The kids won’t be falling from a height. And the trailer has structure, a frame that will help to keep them safe. It’s also good for this transitional year: I can put the twins in it, but I could also put Hazel in it for a ride to school. So, in a couple months, if we have indeed been riding consistently, I think we’ll go for it and get one.

Ted walked over to the house where we were going to see the trailer. This gave him some exercise, gave the babies their morning nap, and gave me some time to spend with Hazel. She’s been wanting me to paint her face, so I did. She got a sun on one cheek, a moon (orange and red at her request) on the other, and three stars on her forehead. I used a paintbrush, and everything came out reasonably well. I find that with many activities involving the kids I have an internal challenge I have to deal with. In this case, I felt intimidated by my nanny’s much greater visual artistic ability (she did an awesome rainbow kitty face on Hazel last week), and in comparing my efforts-to-be with hers focused on the wrong thing for a while. I did get myself into a better space about it pretty quickly, and Hazel and I had fun together.

This afternoon I had a rehearsal for a rock gig. We worked on a bunch of Beatles tunes. I found that I had a grin plastered on my face after the first bar or two of music. Watching the singers’ antics, hearing the (beautifully sung) songs, playing some of the melodies and hearing the others, doing something quite different from my normal sort of gig all added up to a very fun time.

When I got home, Ted and I tackled the filing cabinet. We got through the rest of it, throwing out loads of irrelevant/old/unwanted contents. We also decided on a more streamlined system, which we will create next time we work on it. Though I didn’t want to do it when we started, I’m very glad we continued with that project. It gives me hope that we will ultimately have a house that is clean, organized, and easy to live in. We both have pack-rat tendencies, but we’re enjoying the process of lightening our load. That is probably because in substantial other ways (read, the birth of three children in the last 4 years) things are getting quite a bit more complicated and complex.

memory, family time, cooking

Our doula gave us baby journals for the twins, and we have attempted to write in them over the past ten months. We’ve got entries from the first day, and then in months 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, and 10. I was feeling like a failure because it had been so long since we’d written in them, but looking at the above list, I think we’ve done pretty well. We’ll go back and fill in some. I am happy that we’ll have this gift to give the babies. We got a book a few months ago for Hazel, and are going to put it together after spending some time bringing back the time of her birth and first year in conversation. We want her to have one too, even if it’s done after the fact. The other day I had the idea that I’d like to buy a nice wooden box for each kid to fill with keepsakes to give them as a gift when they turn 18. We could include the baby books, albums of pictures, selected artwork they’ve made, birthday cards, etc. Today Ted and I were sitting with the babies, and I felt the poignancy of being with them at this moment, when they’re so little and sweet, so open, so tender. I felt grief knowing this time will pass, that we’ll never have another baby, and, most piercingly, that I will forget so much. I have forgotten so much of Hazel’s babyhood. I have bits and pieces that flash through my memory, but though I remember that she made wonderful enchanting sounds, I have forgotten what they sounded like. I remember that she loved to be held her upside down, but that memory has stuck with me only because we have a picture of me doing that, and both of us grinning. I grieve what I will lose. Ted and I want to reconstruct that time and do her baby book partly for her, but partly for us. We want to be able to hold on to some of that. Life is so busy and complex, and it’s easy for things to get lost in the layering of all its strands. So that’s also partly why I’m writing this blog, and why I post things on Facebook. I like to be able to go back and read, and remember. And the act of writing helps cement things, too, as does the act of taking photographs.

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Today we had Hazel’s cousin all day. My sister dropped her off in the morning, and after we had breakfast (my niece’s second breakfast), we went to the zoo. We wore the babies in our Ergo’s (with my background in Classics and many years of Latin even before I got to college, I can’t help but translate, “ergo = therefore” and then wonder why a company would call its product “Therefore”,) and they slept for the first half hour we were there, finishing up their morning nap begun in the car. Since it was a cold day (though happily not raining), we were able to get into the lion cub viewing area and spend a while looking at them. The sight of all those cats lounging together is glorious. We also took a ride on the carousel, saw the gorillas, and were able to run the kids around. We would have liked to have more time to do the latter, but had to get back home for lunch and nap. Funny how regimented the schedule has to be, because of the hell which must be paid if it is not. Everybody slept, except Ted, who heroically tackled the pile of dishes in the kitchen.

Tonight Hazel helped us put the lasagna together. Tomorrow we’ll pick recipes for the upcoming week. Also tomorrow, a rehearsal, and our next installment of cleaning-up-the-house.

(not) sleeping, biking, playing, feeding, sleeping

I am wiped out. Yesterday I made a commitment to getting up sooner, and so of course last night I stayed up until 3 am. My inner child was screaming, “You can’t make me go to bed!!!” at the top of her lungs. I am going to go to sleep soon, and hope that my night last night hasn’t cost me the battle with a cold.

Nonetheless, today had some very nice aspects. I walked over to the bike shop to pick up my bike, which I’d taken in for a tune-up. I bought a helmet & lock, and rode home. I didn’t think I’d make it up even a fraction of the multi-block hill, but I did! That was exciting. Also positive was feeling the wind on my face while biking, a sensation I haven’t experienced in years, and Hazel’s excitement about going out for a ride with me. When Ted got home we all headed over to a park to meet up with some friends. Ted took the babies and the car, and Hazel and I rode our bikes over. She loved it. She said how much she liked just being with me, “It’s simpler this way!” When I brought my bike out her eyes got really big. “Wow, your bike is huge!” I am looking forward to many more rides with Hazel.

At the park we popped the twins into a swing, back to back. Listening to their giggles while they swing is an enormous pleasure. Hazel had friends to play with too. It was a spectacular day and evening, so great to be able to hang around outside in just light pants and a short-sleeved shirt, looking at a blue sky, gorgeous light, and flowers everywhere.

Ted and I took the kids to a restaurant close to the park for dinner. The babies are very excited to eat. We gave them some bits of a Caprese salad, some hamburger, melon, chicken, tomatoes, and mac and cheese. It all went over very well. Joanna did a lot of kicking her feet with glee and smiling. Emily jiggled up and down. Then Ted drove everyone else home and I rode home. My sit bones are sore now, and the knee is not totally happy, but I think the kinks will work out of the old system, and I will start getting quite a lot more exercise.

Now for bed!

thin privilege

For a lot of my life I thought of privilege narrowly: it simply called to mind someone wealthy and influential. Having been educated by reading feminist and womanist blogs and other materials, I’ve come to understand the limited nature of that definition. I now think of it this way: having privilege means being shielded from the necessity of considering or validating some area of human experience due to its seeming absence from one’s own life or life experience. Virtually all of us have privilege in a variety of ways. And when we are all more willing to acknowledge this and to examine the ways in which this shields us from the sometimes terrible or life-threatening realities of other people’s lives, we will be better placed to make needed improvements to our world.

One instance of this is thin privilege. I’ve had two friends recently comment that once they know someone they don’t really see body shape or how the person looks any more. During the second conversation I realized that that idea has bugged me for a while, and I have now figured out why. Being able to ignore other people’s looks is an instance of thin privilege. For someone who is fat, or is considered fat in comparison with our current beauty standard, not thinking about appearance is not really a possibility. (I hereby acknowledge that to some degree I am extrapolating from my own experience, and that your mileage may vary.)

I started getting called fat in the second grade. It’s weird: going back and looking at pictures of myself from that age, it is clear that I was not fat. I am not sure how that came to be the insult that I acquired. But nonetheless, “fat” is used as an insult in our culture. It is laden with all sorts of other derogatory judgments, including lazy, greedy, irresponsible, etc. Having been the subject of that sort of derision, both explicitly and implicitly, both within my family and without, I have not grown up with the ability to ignore looks. I had my (deficient) looks shoved down my throat early. I am not sure a day has gone by since I was in elementary school that I’ve not thought about how I look, and how I wish I looked different than I do. I am not allowed to forget or dismiss the topic. I am flooded with input in this area by the media all around me, and by commentary from many quarters. How many times a day do the words, “I look so fat,” or, “I feel so fat,” get uttered by you or someone in your immediate vicinity? The intonation and cultural baggage attached to that word means that what people are saying often is really, “I look so ugly.” Sometimes, in my wilder moments, I am tempted to say to a thin woman who says this in my hearing, “Don’t worry, you’re not as ugly as me.”

I am thinner than some and fatter than some. No one, regardless of size, is truly unaffected by our beauty standard, but some people are protected (at least for a while) from some of its nastier impacts by the fact that their appearance is more closely in line with its demands than that of other people.

I think that women are trained to minutely scrutinize their appearance, and to put a fair amount of time, energy, and money, into modifying it. I think that to expect these same women not to scrutinize the appearance of other women, at least to some extent, is unrealistic. I think that if we deliberately set out to celebrate the diversity of beauty there is on our globe, to present people in all their different forms and with their human complexity, we would create an environment in which we could more successfully encourage people to focus on inner beauty and to appreciate everyone for who they are. As it is, fat characters are hardly ever seen on TV and in the movies are heroes and heroines, as positive, healthy sexual beings, as people to be admired, respected, emulated, or desired.

I loved the TV show Judging Amy for many reasons, one of which was that Amy’s mother Maxine, played by Tyne Daly, was an older fat woman who was smart, hard-working, loving, and also sexual. Her relationships were presented in a positive way, with no gawky disrespectful vibe. I was very sad when the show was abruptly cancelled in order to make way for something with a younger, “sexier” main character.

I am not writing any of this to criticize my friends. I think the ability to see through the outer envelope to someone’s inner essence, to appreciate that and focus on it, is wonderful. And I understand and appreciate both the sentiment and the experience. But we live in a world that polices women and girls’ appearance, sometimes subtly and sometimes viciously. It is not possible to forget this when one has been a subject of that policing. Escaping it is a privilege. I dream of a day when such an escape will not be necessary, because we will have embraced our diversity.

cooking and working out

Between us, Ted and I have gotten the first two weekly dishes cooked – a new potato and pea salad, and a sausage and pasta casserole. I just realized that we didn’t ask Hazel if she wanted to pick a dish to cook this week. I’ll have to do that tomorrow. And we’re going to change the day on which we cook so that it’s not so compressed, and we can more easily include her. It’s nice to feel that there’s time to take it slowly, not to worry if it takes her fifteen minutes to do a task I could do in three. Tonight she helped me shell peas. Tomorrow I’ll be able to share the dish with her.

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Today I had an appointment at the gym. It’s the first time I’ve been in weeks and weeks. It was good to get back there. I had a new trainer, as the woman I’ve seen over the past few years just got married and was on a short sabbatical from her job. I’ll be curious to see if she comes back; no one seems to know if she’s going to or not. In the meantime, I have someone else good to work with. As part of our membership we get a monthly assessment. It is my goal to have been to the gym twice a week between now and the next one for a weight training/resistance workout, if not for cardio, which I can get in on foot or on the bike. It’s time. I want to be able to hike this summer.